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Zero-hours contract, better than no job at all?

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Tony Wilmot, co-founder of staffbay.com, says this is a good move by Government because Universal Credit should adjust the levels of benefit automatically to correspond with the number of hours worked. People on zero-hours contracts are essentially “on-call”, working when and if required. Critics of the scheme say they can be exploited by unscrupulous employers to reward or punish employees. However, Tony Wilmot refutes this. He says: “Having the ability to take on a zero hours contract jobs is great. It's even better that the government has got their head around a system that continues to provide benefit through the Universal Credit system when a worker doesn't get enough hours in.

“This is amazing I'd say – considerably better than loafing around because it would be suicidal to give up your 26k benefits. The proposals by the Department for Work and Pensions provide jobseekers with the best of both worlds, and a sense of comfort that benefits will be there in the event of a hard landing.” According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, there are about 1.4 million zero-hour contracts in the UK. But, says Tony Wilmot, this is indicative of a rise in people looking for jobs in the first place. He adds:  “We have seen first-hand sheer volume of people looking for new jobs. We’re at the coalface of the industry and are aware that employees are being very proactive at interacting with prospective employers as the economy truly takes off.”

A new ONS Labour Force Survey shows that people on zero-hours contracts are more likely to be women, in full-time education or in young (16-24) or older (65 and over) age groups, perhaps reflecting a tendency to combine flexible working with education or working beyond state retirement age. Nearly two thirds of people employed on zero-hours contracts work part-time compared with around a quarter of people not employed on zero-hours contracts. On average, someone on a zero-hours contract usually works 25 hours a week compared with 37 hours a week for people not employed on zero-hours contracts. Tony adds: “What this survey tells us is that just over a third of those employed on a zero-hours contract want more hours, with most wanting them in their current job. This is somewhat greater than for people not employed on a zero-hours contract. So, perhaps the media obsession with zero-hours contracts being the scourge of the jobseeker is a myth after all?”

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